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November 4, 2014

New ESTA Visa Rules for the U.S.A. – What you need to know

by Jason Dutton-Smith
Destination USA!

All passengers travelling to the U.S.A. require an ESTA (Electronic System Travel Authorisation) as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for eligible countries. Effective today, changes to the program include additional questions. Here is what you need to know before travelling to America.

What is an ESTA?

An ESTA is part of the Visa Waiver Program for eligible countries. It is required for all travel to or via the United States and mandatory for all passengers. Your ESTA certificate is valid for two years and required to be carried with you.

What are the changes to the ESTA?

Currently there are eight standard questions as part of your application.  Effective today the US Government has included an extra five questions as per below.

  • Basic background information
  • Passport information
  • Current or previous employer details
  • Address in the united States
  • Emergency contact

Electronic devices update – New security measures for electronic devices
Travel tips –  6 must read tips before travelling to America


When does my ESTA need to be renewed?

If you have an existing valid ESTA then you are free to travel to or via the United States on the current visa certificate. If any of the following applies to you then a new ESTA is required to be obtained prior to departure.

  • Once it has expired (two year validity)
  • If the passport number changes or expires
  • If the traveller’s name changes
  • If the traveller’s gender changes
  • If the traveller’s country of citizenship changes

How do I apply for an ESTA?

Your ESTA Visa can be purchased here https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ There is a small administrative fee payable by credit card at time of application. Once you have applied and your application has been approved a certificate will be emailed to you. This certificate can be printed and taken with you for your travel.

When do I need to apply for an ESTA?

An ESTA needs to be applied for and approved at least three days prior to your departure. If the application is sent within 72 hours from departure you run the risk of being denied boarding at time of check-in.

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